Ford v Ferrari: World Premiere of Mangold’s Biopic, Starring Bale and Damon–First Reactions

I am attending the Venice Film Fest (for its duration), which overlaps with the Telluride Film Fest.

Colleagues tell me that the rapturous audience reaction to the world premiere of James Mangold’s Ford v Ferrari, elevates the profile of this highly-anticipated movie.


Variety reports that interest in the film was high with full house at the 650-seat Werner Herzog theater. Some moviegoers covered their eyes during the picture’s most dramatic race sequences.

Furthermore, it appears that Fox, which releases the film through Disney, will place Christian Bale in the Best Actor category, while Matt Damon might be promoted as candidate in the Best Supporting league, so that the two distinguished performers would not cancel each other out.

Damon portrays Carroll Shelby, the American racecar driver who was hired by Ford to build a car to beat Ferrari at the historic Le Mans race in 1966. Bale stars as Ken Miles, the rebellious Brit who Shelby insists drive Ford’s super machine.

Hollywood Reporter

The HR had a different take: “This immensely entertaining if also overly long (152 minutes) thriller from Fox will do better at the box-office than with the Academy.

Both Bale and Damon do excellent work: Mangold is a terrific director of actors. Bale, as the eccentric British racer Ken Miles, has the more colorful part and does wonders with it.

Damon is very good, too, as his calming influence, American racer-turned-car designer Carroll Shelby, and probably has a bit more screen time, but winds up feeling like Mark Wahlberg’s probably did opposite Bale in 2010’s The Fighter, for which Bale won the best supporting actor Oscar.

If Fox can convince its stars and Oscar voters that Bale is a supporting actor in the film, then he could be a contender. If they wind up pitted in the same category, however, my hunch is neither will make it.

Phedon Papamichael‘s cinematography, film editing by Andrew Buckland and Michale McCusker, Marco Beltrami‘s original score and the film’s sound editing and sound mixing are also possibilities.

Car Racing Movies at the Oscars

Car racing movies have done reasonably well (if not great) at the Oscars in the technical (below-the-line) categories. John Frankenheimer’s 1966 Grand Prix won three Oscar Awards for film editing, sound and sound effects.

However, acting recognition has not been impressive in this genre. Ron Howard’s Rush in 2013 failed to earn acting nominations for Chris Hemsworth, though Daniel Bruhl received BAFTA, Critics Choice, and Golden Globe recognition in the supporting league.

Variety Review

Despite its competition-oriented title, Ford v Ferrari is actually the story of two friends, Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles (played by Damon and Bale), who partnered with the Ford Motor Company to beat Italian sportscar designer Enzo Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Shelby had bested Ferrari once before, winning Le Mans in 1959 behind the wheel of an Aston Martin, but was benched soon after on account of a bum ticker, so he turned to his best driver to develop and commandeer the car that would do the feat. Miles was more of a wild card, a British tank commander who’d survived World War II but went on to become a daredevil racer, pushing his cars to the limit on the track.